Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same simple materials.
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Discover: Simple winter-themed sorting, counting and math activities

Math is something that has never come easily to me, so in creating Montessori teaching tools, I look for things I would respond to – tactile, colorful items, games or a story.  I can quickly make lessons in math overly-complicated, so my main goal for this learning tool was to keep it simple with some sorting, counting and beginner math.

I have used felt for Montessori learning toys in the past and find it works well, so I grabbed some clothespins, cut up some strips and simple shapes and boom – in 5 minutes I had some adorable winter peg dolls and a bright little winter village.

Creating a set of these in multiple assorted colors gives you tons of options for learning through games or story-telling. With minimal supplies you can easily create you own simple, ready-for-winter clothespin folk, a set of colorful, cozy home!

To make your own felt and peg doll winter counting game you’ll need:

  • Clothespins
  • Felt in assorted colors
  • Scissors
Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch
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For your bundled-up peg people, simply cut a 1/2″ strip of felt, tie around the “neck” of a clothespin, and cut 2-3 vertical lines up the middle of both ends of the felt “scarf”. That’s it! I then cut a simple house shape out of paper and used it as a template for my little sorting houses. No glue, no paint, no drying time – so you can have a full set finished in 10 minutes.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch
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Hands-on learning is not a kids-only sport. In fact, both sorting and math are both concepts that I *still* like to feel my way through – quite literally. In my previous work at art & design firms, I often physically grouped items by color, texture, etc. – or printed out a series of shapes to build simple 2-D models from.

When we sat down to create a sorting game, I didn’t have a grand plan, but approached it as if I was playing a game myself. As we worked on the pieces & moved things around, more functions, approaches and possible games came to mind. Below are a few of the simple ideas I came up with for creating a winter-themed sorting, counting or math activity.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same simple materials.
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You can easily make a game out of sorting by color.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch
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Or cut and trace simple house shapes – building a math puzzle of sorts.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch
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And you’d be amazed how magic math feels when you draw a few snowflakes on a sheet of paper and set up a little winter village – adding and subtracting brightly-scarved peg doll tenants.

Once the playing begins, you may find that you’re learning more from observing  and playing along than you ever would trying to lead! 😉

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Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch
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Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same simple materials.
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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